This post was supposed to go up days ago and is actually a little old as news. Sadly there's plenty of reason still to post this, since the story ought to be as big as Watergate, and almost no one is paying attention. I'm talking about the sworn testimony from Hocking County, Ohio Board of Elections Deputy Director, Sherole Eaton. Ms. Eaton said that on Friday, Dec. 10, an employee of Triad, the company that services all of Ohio's punch card machines, tampered with the tabulator computer, which records the results from the individual machines around the county.
The story is serious enough that The New York Times broke its code of silence on the Ohio investigation and actually published an article on the subject. Only a nine paragraph article, but against the backdrop of it's news ban, this is a thunderous acknowledgment that something serious is going on.
Here's what has happened: Sherole Eaton came forward with a signed affidavit, alleging machine tampering by a Triad employee. The Triad employee also asked Ms. Eaton to be complicit in falsifying the results of the manual recount that they were to perform. From her affidavit:
On Friday, December 10 2004, Michael from TriAd called in the AM to inform us that he would be in our office in the PM on the same day. I asked him why he was visiting us. He said, "to check out your tabulator, computer, and that the attorneys will be asking some tricky questions and he wanted to go over some of the questions they maybe ask." He also added that there would be no charge for this service.The day after Ms. Eaton submitted her affidavit, Representative John Conyers requested an investigation by the FBI [pdf]. In his letter to the FBI, Conyers added, "I have information that similar actions of this nature may be occurring in other counties in Ohio." Despite the magnitude of Eaton's allegations and Conyers' statement, the Bureau has no plans to investigate.
He arrived at about 12:30PM. I hung his coat up and it was very heavy. I made a comment about it being so heavy. He, Lisa Schwartze and I chatted for a few minutes. He proceeded to go to the room where our computer and tabulation machine is kept. I followed him into the room. I had my back to him when he turned the computer on. He stated that the computer was not coming up. I did see some commands at the lower left hand of the screen but no menu. He said that the battery in the computer was dead and that the stored information was gone. He said that he could put a patch on it and fix it. My main concern was - what if this happened when we were ready to do the recount. He proceeded to take the computer apart and call his offices to get information to input into our computer. Our computer is fourteen years old and as far as I know had always worked in the past. I asked him if the older computer, that is in the same room. could be used for the recount. I don't remember exactly what he said but I did relay to him that the computer was old and a spare. At some point he asked if he could take the spare computer apart and I said "yes". He took both computers apart. I don't remember seeing any tools and he asked Sue Wallace, Clerk, for a screwdriver. She got it for him. At this point I was frustrated about the computer not performing and feared that it wouldn't work for the recount. I called Gerald Robinette, board chairman, to inform him regarding the computer problem and asked him if we could have Tri Ad come to our offices to run the program and tabulator for the recount. Gerald talked on the phone with Michael and Michael assured Gerald that he could fix our computer. He worked on the computer until about 3:00 PM and then asked me which precinct and the number of the precinct we were going to count. I told him, Good Hope 1 # 17. He went back into the tabulation room. Shortly after that he (illegible) stated that the computer was ready for the recount and told us not to turn the computer off so it would charge up.
Before Lisa ran the tests, Michael said to turn the computer off. Lisa said, " I thought you said we weren't supposed to turn it off." He said turn it off and right back on and it should come up. It did come up and Lisa ran the tests. Michael gave us instructions on how to explain the rotarien, what the tests mean, etc. No advice on how to handle the attorneys but to have our Prosecuting Attorney at the recount to answer any of their legal questions. He said not to turn the computer off until after the recount.
He advised Lisa and I on how to post a "cheat sheet" on the wall so that only the board members and staff would know about it and and what the codes meant so the count would come out perfect and we wouldn't have to do a full hand recount of the county. He left about 5:00 PM.